By an order in council passed on the
20th day of July, 1764, King George the III declared the western of Connecticut
river to be the boundary line between his province of New Hampshire and
New York. This order was proclaimed by Gov. Colden of New York, on
the 10th day of April, 1765; and the governor of New Hampshire by proclamation,
recommended to the proprietors and settlers of the “the grants,” submission
and due obedience to the authority and laws of the colony of New York.
The proprietors of Townshend were neither
alarmed nor made indignant by the transfer of jurisdiction to New York.
Management and control of their proprietary interest were little changed
thereby. Whatever opposition was made to these land-titles proved
to be of a yielding nature, and they submitted to the new authority.
In due time, their New Hampshire charter was confirmed by the government
of New York, in response to a petition for that purpose. Agreeably
to a colonial statute of New York, deeds and conveyances of any interest
in real estate were recorded in the secretary’s office of the colony, or
in the county records of the county where the real estate was situated.
This law was in force while the town remained under the jurisdiction of
While the French and Indian war was
raging, a settlement of the town was impracticable, and proceedings of
proprietors were suspended during the eventful years from 1754 to 1761.
The victory of Wolfe in 1759 and the capitulation of Vaudreuil in 1760,
followed by the treaties of Fontainbleau and Paris, severed Canada
and the districts east of it from the control of France. French and
Indian incursions, which had so long scourged the people of new England,
were to be feared no longer. A frontier of wide extent had been opened
for settlement under the quiet and security of English rule. Provincial
soldiers discharged upon the surrender of the French in Canada, and resolute
adventurers flocked hither to occupy and become owners of the land known
as the Hampshire Grants.
Settlement of the town was commenced
by John Baird, Thomas Baird and Col. John Hazeltine about the first of
June 1761. Nothing was done this season, except to build a log hut
and commence work upon the lots taken by the new comers. Years ago,
the following anecdote was in circulation about the first settlement of
the town. The story is given as we wrote it from the lips of an old
At a meeting in Massachusetts
of the grantees, old Col. Hazeltine got it so fixed that the proprietor
who should get here first, with the intention to settle, might have the
first choice of lots which had been surveyed. The two Bairds were
present; they saw what the Colonel was up to, and mistrusted that he would
be in Townshend as soon as possible, to take up the best lots. They
determined to get in ahead of him, and started for this town at close of
the meeting. Col. Hazeltine went home and passed the night.
Early in the morning he said to his wife, “I am going to Townshend.”
He was soon on his way and without an unnecessary halt, came to what is
now called the Elder Hodges farm, in Newfane, where he stopped over night.
Starting in good season the next day and hurrying on, it was not late when
he forded West river where the lower bridge stands. On reaching the
bank, he saw a smoke and near it found the two Bairds engaged in clearing
a spot for their cabin. Instantly comprehending the situation, the
old gentleman, with a low bow and bland good-by, gave the bridle reins
a jerk or two, put spurs in his horse, rode on and selected lots farther
up the river.
The land taken up by Col. Hazeltine
in 1761, was situated in the west part of the town, where he soon afterwards
built a log fort upon the meadow now owned by Deacon Pierce. During
the same season, the Bairds located their rights near the ford of West
river. Joseph Tyler of Uxbridge, and John Howe of Framingham, commenced
their clearings in 1764; the former, upon the present Bridge farm near
the east village; the latter, upon the Hiram Howe farm in school district
No. 7. John Burt of Killingly, Conn., and Paul Hazeltine of
came in 1765. None of the settlers remained here, however, during
the winter months prior to 1766.